Many immigration detention centers along with jails have become a hotspot for the COVID-19 virus simply because inmates and detainees are living in close quarters and are unable to properly practice social distancing. In fact, both jails and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers have received backlash for how they have responded to the pandemic, one even being called out by Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson. Despite the negative attention facilities are receiving, little is being done to improve the conditions at these facilities.
ICE Reports Second Death from COVID-19
On May 25th, AJC reported that a Guatemalan man who was being held at Stewart Detention Center in South Georgia passed away from COVID-19 complications. That man has been identified as 34-year-old Santiago Baten-Oxlaj. The source says that the individual passed away on May 24th at around 5:03 a.m. after being hospitalized for the virus on April 17th. ICE did not confirm where he contracted the illness from.
Baten-Oxlaj is the second immigrant detainee to succumb to symptoms associated with the COVID-19 virus. The first detainee who passed away has been identified as 57-year-old Carlos Escobar-Mejia. He was being held at ICE’s Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego and was taken to a hospital in National City after displaying virus-related symptoms. He passed away on May 6th.
ICE Says it is Screening New Detainees for COVID-19
To help curb the spread of the virus, ICE says that it is screening new detainees for COVID-19 and segregating those with fevers and respiratory symptoms.” AJC cited that the agency is “firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of [the incident involving Baten-Oxlaj], as it does in all such cases.” However, NBC News is reporting that ICE “does not routinely test prior to moving detainees from one place to the next.” In fact, the source says that an attorney representing ICE informed a federal court in Florida that it “only tests immigrants who display symptoms of COVID-19.”
NBC News also says that it was told in a statement received from ICE that “it tests some, but not all, immigrants before they are placed on planes and deported.”
Do you have a relative who is currently in ICE custody in Georgia?
If you are looking to get a loved one released from ICE custody or need help with filing the required forms that would potentially allow them to remain in the U.S. and avoid deportation, you should contact the Atlanta, GA immigration attorneys at Kuck | Baxter Immigration. The lawyers at this firm are committed to helping individuals and families obtain a successful outcome in their case and are ready to help you too.
Kuck | Baxter Immigration can be reached at:
365 Northridge Road, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30350